I began my career working with adolescents who were in trouble with the law, involved with gangs, and abusing drugs. I quickly learned that oftentimes the best chance I had to help these kids was to work with their parents. I became interested in couple and family therapy when working at a community mental health agency in Van Nuys, California. Soon after, I completed my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in couple and family therapy. After presenting some research on gender differences in the use of relationship schema at an academic conference in Toronto, my mentor (Dr. Lynn Rankin-Esquer) encouraged me to complete a PhD in Clinical Psychology and become a psychologist.
I’ve been fortunate to have many excellent mentors and clinical supervisors but I’ll be forever grateful to Dr. Kristina Gordon at the University of Tennessee for teaching me both the science and the art of couple therapy. I learned a great deal from her and was involved in research exploring the impact of affairs on family functioning and also studying how couples recover from affairs. I was involved in exploring the role of interpersonal attachment on relationship satisfaction, the impact of commitment on family functioning and developed some lifelong attachments of my own in the process. At the time I also began training in depth oriented, psychodynamic psychotherapy and came to a new understanding of how our early attachments shape our interpersonal behavior as adults. I become more interested in contemporary neuroscience showing how the quality of our relationships shape the neural circuitry of our brain, impacting how we regulate negative emotions and sustain positive ones. I began to learn more about how successful psychotherapy can help change the circuitry of the brain and alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety through new relational experiences.
After graduate school I remained focused on long-term psychotherapy for people with enduring and difficult-to-treat issues and continued to improve my work as a couple and family therapist. I gained additional experience at a community mental health agency in Northern Kentucky working with patients with severe mental illness and co-occurring substance dependence before taking a position as a psychologist at the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic at in Columbus, OH. I worked on developing recovery-oriented mental health programs for Veterans with severe mental illness and was selected to serve as a national consultant to train VA therapists in a specific form of couple therapy called Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy. I am currently the Deputy Chief of Behavioral Health and am responsible for the coordination and delivery of psychological services at the Columbus VA. I also supervise and train students and other clinicians in couple and family therapy and other approaches. I enjoy staying involved in the most recent research in the field and frequently make presentations. Here are some of my recent presentations and publications.
Christensen, A., Daush, B., Doss, B. Tomcik, N.D. (2023). Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy Training Workshop. Arhaus University, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences; Arhaus, Denmark.
More about My Experience
I obtained my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tennessee and my Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. I've trained clinicians in evidence-based approaches to treatment for the last 15 years both nationally and internationally